Sunday, March 16, 2008

Get Your Belgian Chocolate Fix at Leonidas SF

Why buy your secretary another box of Godiva chocolates when there is a new Leonidas in the city? If you love Belgian chocolate, visit Leonidas in their spacious new shop on the ground level of the Crocker Galleria. Your dollar will also go much further at Leonidas, whose $30/pound price is so incredibly reasonable in the world of imported international chocolates. If you don't know what makes Belgian chocolate different from any other kind of chocolate, read on...

Belgians love rich, sweet and creamy filled chocolates. In fact, it was the Belgians (Jean Neuhaus) who first invented the filled chocolate in 1912 and named it a "praline." (Not the same as praliné, which is a mixture of hazelnut and chocolate.) Jean's wife invented the chocolate box (or ballotin) a few years later. Can you imagine the world of high and low end chocolate today without the beautiful packaging and exotic flavors? If you're still not convinced of Belgian's chocolate heritage, just take a look at the amazing number of chocolate museums, demonstrations, events and tours this country offers.

The Leonidas shop offers a wide selection of truffles, butter creams, pralines and liquor-filled chocolates. Unlike the other chocolate shops we visit on our tours, they have creative names for each piece. For example, the "Desiree" is white chocolate with butter cream and pineapple. Yes, the Belgians and the Swiss do not turn their noses up at white chocolate! Or the "Mystere," a dark chocolate butter cream with pistachio. (Wasn't that a Cirque du Soleil hit?) I like the Carré Croquant, a milk chocolate praliné with crisp rice (as in chocolate rice krispie treat!) It's also worth trying their "Pearls," or round chocolate balls that resemble the classic French truffle. Some are dipped in cocoa powder, others in coconut or powder sugar.

Like most of the new chocolate shops, Leonidas also offers a drink menu. What I love is that each drink comes with a free piece of filled chocolate! They say the hot chocolate is made from melted chocolate with steamed milk. It is good, but definitely not the best I've had in the city. It would be great if Leonidas, like Schoggi and Christopher Elbow, had tables and chairs to sit and sip. The modern, clean interior is welcoming and never very crowded. But with the Crocker Galleria tables and heat lamps just outside the shop, there are plenty of spots to linger and enjoy your Belgian treats.

1 comment:

JasonM said...

I definitely agree, I found Leonidas chocolates at a shop called Cocoabean in Chifley Square, Sydney.

You can taste the pure cocoa butter in these imported belguim chocolates. Yummm